Cartoon Network has announced new guidelines for its beverage advertising to promote a healthier image for the channel's characters.

The network said today (20 August), that it has made new policies limiting the amount of advertising targeted at children under the age of 12 that do not meet specific nutritional criteria.

The new guidelines state that advertising for food and beverage products must have a limited number of total calories per serving with restrictions on fat, sodium and sugar. The network said that, while adhering to these guidelines, advertising must also encouraging the consumption of nutrients such as vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein, and fibre.

The network added that it has appointed paediatricians, nutritionists and obesity researchers to govern its character product licensing in on-air, online and on-pack advertising as well as all promotional activity.

The guidelines, which will apply in the US to all new product licensing and promotional tie-in deals will begin from January 2008.

Turner's Animation executive vice president and COO Stuart Snyder said: "Our strategy is to approach these current health issues on all fronts by carefully guiding our licensed character branding, developing new entertainment programming and interstitials to help teach recommended dietary practices, and promoting multiple off-channel partnerships that will inspire kids to develop a more active lifestyle."

American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson Bonnie Taub-Dix added:  "What sets Cartoon Network's nutritional guidelines apart is that they are based on scientific research proven to be effective. By embracing the IOM standards for schools and the US Dietary Guidelines, the network has adopted an approach that will effectively complement the dietary lessons kids are also learning in schools today."

Cartoon Network is currently available in more than 91m US homes and 160 countries worldwide.